Health review |29 December 2023
Walking the talk together with gusto
As Seychelles bids farewell to another year, one of the imperatives of this year ending is to take a moment and reflect on the significant strides made in the realm of public health. The Ministry of Health has been at the forefront, tirelessly working to ensure the well-being of citizens and the resilience of the healthcare system.
Disaster Response following blast at CCCL
One of the defining themes of the year has to be our collective response to the explosion at the Civil Construction Company Limited (CCCL). The Ministry of Health took swift action, putting in place detailed plans and working with other emergency response agencies to reduce the impact.
When the alarm was raised on December 7, 2023 at 2.20am, the Health Care Agency immediately mobilised and called in extra staff, deploying four ambulances. By 6.30am, 178 patients had been seen, seven had been admitted and two had been discharged after their surgery.
The hospital emergency plan was put in place and included three dedicated health care delivery areas: accident and emergency at Seychelles Hospital, the English River health centre and Anse Royale health centre. As the effects of the disaster continue to reverberate, the Health Care Agency continues to focus on the mental health needs of the population.
XIX Indian Ocean colloquium on HIV/Aids, hepatitis and addictions
As part of the regional effort to address, the challenge of HIV/Aids as a key public health challenge, the Ministry of Health organised on November 13-15, 2023, the 19th colloquium on HIV/Aids, hepatitis and addictions. The theme of the colloquium was ‘HIV and Aids at the hub of integrated and accessible care’.
The Ministry of Health put a lot of effort over many months to host around 200 representatives from: Comoros, Mayotte, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Reunion, Maldives and Seychelles. Representatives from multilateral organisations, the private sector and the civil society also attended. The colloquium brought together all sectors involved in HIV/Aids work (care givers, people living with HIV /Aids/Hepatitis and media) to discuss issues, exchange ideas, share best practices and get updated on HIV prevention, care and support approaches to give new life to HIV/Aids.
2022 annual health-sector performance report
Launched on July 27/28, 2023, the 2022 Health-Sector Performance Report is an account of the hard work that the nation’s health professionals, all sectors country-wide, have put in, both individually and in partnership, to continue to promote, protect and restore our nation’s health.
The report shows that as a nation, the Seychellois have been resilient despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic since 2019. The Ministry of Health in particular, has worked in unison to improve the quality and quantity of services on offer, taking them closer to people’s homes, workplaces and leisure activities, while still adhering to the country’s sustainable development objectives and other commitments, both nationally and internationally.
Declaring obesity as a public health emergency
On October 15, 2023, in the midst of a day full of educational and sporting events, healthy eating and health screening, and healthy tips for young to old, the 'Stop Obesity' national campaign, an initiative led by President Wavel Ramkalawan, was launched.
Overweight and obesity are on the rise in many countries. In 2022 data from the annual school screening survey showed that 35% of children aged between 5 and 18 years were overweight or obese, while 30% of boys were overweight or obese.
For adults, according to the most recent study conducted in 2013 on adults aged 25 to 64 years, the combined overweight/obesity rate was 57% for men, and 72% for women.
Over the past 40 years, the dietary pattern has changed drastically in Seychelles. The diet has become more energy-rich with low-nutritional-value foods. More and more people are adopting sedentary lifestyles. This has contributed to the rise in obesity and NCDs. Seychelles needs to come up with concrete solutions to address this public health burden.
Strengthening healthcare infrastructure
Investments in healthcare infrastructure have been a top priority. New facilities equipped with state-of-the-art technology, have been established to enhance our capacity to handle public health crises.
This commitment to infrastructure development is a testament to our dedication to providing quality healthcare services to all citizens, now and in the future.
The opening of St Mary’s Hospital on La Digue on August 15 and the installation of a brand new MRI machine at Seychelles Hospital in December attest to that.
Revitalising primary healthcare
Primary health care remains the bedrock of our health care system. Our primary health care facilities are often the first point of contact with the health system. Vital public health interventions take place in or out of these facilities.
Capitalising on the strong sense of community engagement and participation leading up to the opening of the St Mary’s Hospital, the Ministry of Health organised the first primary health care conference, which was held on La Digue. The event, under the theme ‘Promoting La Digue as a centre of excellence’, brought together healthcare workers form La Digue, community leaders, civil society and MoH top management to develop a road map for primary health care on La Digue. Similar regional conferences are planned for next year.
Mental health advocacy
Recognising the profound impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on mental health, the Ministry of Health has expanded its focus on mental well-being. Initiatives aimed at raising awareness, reducing stigma, and providing accessible mental health services have been implemented.
This holistic approach ensures that our citizens receive the support they need to navigate the challenges of these trying times. Mental health professionals are coming together in strength to address the innumerable prevention and case management needs.
Health education and awareness: Education is a powerful tool in the promotion of public health. Throughout the year, the ministry has conducted extensive health education and awareness campaigns. These efforts seek to empower citizens to make informed decisions about their health, fostering a culture of prevention and early presentation for early detection of illness.
Collaborations and partnerships: Recognising that health challenges extend beyond borders, the Ministry of Health has actively engaged in international and national collaborations and partnerships. By sharing knowledge, resources, and best practices, we contribute to the global effort to improve health outcomes for all. These partnerships reinforce our commitment to building a healthier Seychelles for future generations.
Egypt, India, China, Cuba, France remain faithful bilateral partners as the ministry welcomes new ones to the fold. The United Nations agencies such as WHO and UNFPA and regional partners such as Africa CDC have lent invaluable support to the national effort.
New uniform at NIHSS
It was designed to renew interest in health careers. After some initial ruckus in the National Assembly, the students are sporting their new attire with pomp and circumstance.
As Seychelles steps into the new year, the Ministry of Health remains committed to innovation, inclusivity, and adaptability. The ministry’s focus on preventive healthcare, technological advancements and community engagement will continue to guide its initiatives. By learning from the challenges of the past, the ministry aspires to be the best it can be in everything it does.